What are "legal highs"?

I don't quite understand "legal highs". They are drugs that get you high, but they are legal? How does that work?

asked 09 Mar '12, 15:09

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New compounds are being created everyday to mimic the desired effects of illegal drugs, and people are getting away with it. These compounds are technically "legal" because their exact chemistry has not yet been classified as illegal by authorities. You can find these products, such as "bath salts" and "party powder", in gas stations and head shops.

(13 Mar '12, 13:15) Jack ♦


Drug Abuse

Legal highs are often abused by those trying to get high without any unlawful actions.


Designer Drugs

Most legal highs are considered designer drugs.


Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic legal highs often mimic the effects of many desired illegal drugs, like MDMA and Cocaine.

I think there's too much focus on "legal" vs "illegal" when it comes to getting high. I get high on living, which sometimes means adrenaline rushes from extreme sports, and sometimes means partying hard. Where does "legal" come into it?

For substances, we have these laws that are based on chemicals listed on government control lists. When they are in products, those products can be "illegal". With these designer drugs, who can keep track of legal vs. illegal?

Much better would be safe vs. unsafe. Then illegal is considered unsafe (who wants to go to jail?) but also unsafe are the ones that can hurt you (legal or not).

I vote for "safe highs" over "legal highs". I think it's a much better approach.


Here are the Drug Enforcement Agency descriptions of "controlled substances" with my bolding:

Schedule I Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have a **high potential for abuse**, have **no currently accepted medical use** in treatment in the United States, and there is a **lack of accepted safety for use** of the drug or other substance under medical supervision. Some examples of substances listed in schedule I are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (“ecstasy”).

Schedule II Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have a **high potential for abuse** which **may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence**. Examples of single entity schedule II narcotics include morphine and opium. Other schedule II narcotic substances and their common name brand products include: hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), methadone (Dolophine®), meperidine (Demerol®), oxycodone (OxyContin®), and fentanyl (Sublimaze® or Duragesic®). Examples of schedule II stimulants include: amphetamine (Dexedrine®, Adderall®), methamphetamine (Desoxyn®), and methylphenidate (Ritalin®). Other schedule II substances include: cocaine, amobarbital, glutethimide, and pentobarbital.

Schedule III Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have a **potential for abuse less than substances in schedules I or II** and abuse **may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence**. Examples of schedule III narcotics include combination products containing less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin®) and products containing not more than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine®). Also included are buprenorphine products (Suboxone® and Subutex®) used to treat opioid addiction. Examples of schedule III non-narcotics include benzphetamine (Didrex®), phendimetrazine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids such as oxandrolone (Oxandrin®).

Schedule IV Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have a **low potential for abuse** relative to substances in schedule III. An example of a schedule IV narcotic is propoxyphene (Darvon® and Darvocet-N 100®). Other schedule IV substances include: alprazolam (Xanax®), clonazepam (Klonopin®), clorazepate (Tranxene®), diazepam (Valium®), lorazepam (Ativan®), midazolam (Versed®), temazepam (Restoril®), and triazolam (Halcion®).

Schedule V Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have a **low potential for abuse** relative to substances listed in schedule IV and consist primarily of preparations **containing limited quantities of certain narcotics**. These are generally used for antitussive, antidiarrheal, and analgesic purposes. Examples include cough preparations containing not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams (Robitussin AC® and Phenergan with Codeine®).
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Asked: 09 Mar '12, 15:09

Seen: 4,082 times

Last updated: 16 Apr '12, 19:43